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What is a Rotary Cutter? Do I Need One for Sewing?

by Beth Cooper
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Hey there, new sewist.  How are ya?  So, you’re asking yourself “What is a Rotary Cutter?”  And you’re probably also asking yourself “Why the heck can’t I just use scissors?”  Well, my friend, I’m here to help.  The short answer is yes, you need a rotary cutter for your sewing projects.  They save time and allow you to cut very precisely and accurately.

Missouri Star has a large selection of rotary cutters in all shapes and sizes!

Let’s start at the beginning. The rotary cutter comes in several different styles and shapes, but they are all the same concept – a rotary cutter usually has about a 6” long handle with a round blade at the end.  This blade, when rolled alongside a ruler, will make a very straight, very precise cut of your fabric.  When rolled alongside a pattern paper, it trims your fabric to exactly the same size as your paper pattern.  It also has the ability to cut every ounce of flesh off of a finger and cause you to either faint, cuss, or scream.  Or perhaps all three simultaneously.  So, be very careful with your cutter and never allow a child access to it.

There are different brands and different sizes available.  There are ergonomic rotary cutters and pink cutters and blue cutters, and well, you get the idea.  There are different sizes when it comes to blades.  A 45 mm cutter (the most common size) is great for quilting projects.  However, if you’re sewing garments and cutting curved pieces, consider buying a 28 mm or even an 18 mm size cutter.  The smaller sizes allow you to cut smaller pieces and gives you more control as you cut curved pieces of your pattern.  As for what style you buy, well that’s a personal preference.  You may need to try out a few and see how they fit your hand. 

Are you left-handed?  No worries.  Nearly every cutter can be reversed to a left-handed cutter (the blade is just moved to the right.) 

What happens when the blade gets dull? You simply swap the old one out for a new one. Just be careful! There’s no need to buy a whole new cutter every time.

Rotary blade refills from Missouri Star Quilt Company

The beauty of a rotary cutter is that you are sure to have more accurate cutting.  When you have more accurate cutting, you have more accurate sewing.  And when you have accurate sewing, you end up with a successful project.  Although this is a simple tool, it is a very important tool and a must-have for any sewist. 

Now that you know all about rotary cutters, you’ll be cutting fabric like a pro! Happy sewing!

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